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Christopher Breuer, MD

Award Name Pilot Grant
Award Date 08/17/2012


Development of a close, disposable system for assembling tissue engineered vascular grafts

Part 2: Evaluation of the bioequivalence of cell isolation techniques

Christopher Breuer, MD, Co-Director of the new Tissue Engineering Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Director of Tissue Engineering at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, has collaborated with Heather Powell, PhD, Associate and Assistant Professor in The Ohio State University’s Department of Material Sciences and Department of Biomedical Engineering, and received a pilot grant from the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) for their research involving vascular tissue engineering. 

Their proposal entitled “Development of a close, disposable system for assembling tissue engineered vascular grafts (Part 2: Evaluation of the bioequivalence of cell isolation techniques),” has a focus of creating a better vascular graft for children. 

Previous vascular grafts lack growth capacity, making them less efficient over time as children outgrow them. The team implemented their idea of seeding harvested cells onto a biodegradable scaffold to create the first tissue-engineered vascular graft that has been successfully used by humans. Over time, the biodegradable tube disintegrates and the new tissue forms leaving a living blood vessel that grows as the child does.

Tissue engineered vascular grafts are used in congenital heart operations. In order to isolate and seed onto the scaffold during the assembling of these vascular grafts, surgeons have to use a special facility called a clean room.  Clean rooms are extraordinarily sterile but significantly expensive to build and maintain. 

The team therefore sought to develop a method to create a graft with a closed system that wouldn’t require clean rooms, making them simpler, faster, and much cheaper to use. A closed system would also make this type of vascular graft readily available. 

The basis of this innovative apparatus is the use of a novel filter method of isolation of the cells rather than the previously used density centrifuge technique that is an open method. The new filter method is simpler and faster. Mononuclear cells are isolated from the bone marrow by trapping the cells in a filtration chamber then washing them.

Before the new system can be used in humans, the team must show that the cells that are obtained through the filtration system are adequate and biologically equivalent. A lamb model is being used to test equivalency because lambs share similar anatomy and physiology with children.

The CCTS project helped the team move towards clinical use of their closed system. “Whenever you talk about translational research you have to talk about the valley of death between the bench and clinical application. The funding awards from the CCTS are very enabling and helpful in this process,” says Breuer.

In the future the team is confident that the closed method can be applied to other tissue engineering technologies to make them more efficient and accessible to facilities that do not have clean rooms.

By Kasasha Arum, September 5, 2014

Related Awardees Related Programs Related Pages

Heather Powell, PhD

Pilot and Collaborative Studies

Awarded Pilot Grants
Funding Opportunities
Acknowledging CTSA grant support in publications

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